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Del Bosque to shuffle the pack against Italy


It's international week and later tonight Spain will be taking on Italy - the nation which we beat in the final of the last Euros, a game which Del Bosque considered to have been the finest the team has played during his tenure. Happy times which were interrupted by Spain's premature exit from World Cup Brazil. Del Bosque decided to resist a complete overhaul of the team, or at least he has maintained the backbone of it, and that's where we stand today. To me he seems to have already made up his mind: yesterday he announced that we will be going to EURO 2016 to defend the trophy, setting the maximum objective as the aim. I like that attitude. For someone who is usually quire restrained, Del Bosque has set an ambitious objective for EURO 2016 France, which will be his swan song.

Ahead of these two friendly games (the second of which, against Romania in Cluj on Sunday), he declared that, as always, he aims to give minutes to all of the players in the list. The only uncertainty is whether he will field a mix of first choice players and aspirants in both games, or whether he'll field his strongest side tonight against Italy and his second string versus Romania. Under similar circumstances when Spain have had two friendlies lined up, it has usually been the latter. And the difference between Italy and Romania makes a good case for that to happen. Italy have enormous pedigree and it only seems right to go out against them with the best team possible. The team is already somewhat weakened by the absences of Busquets and Iniesta.

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And by the way, Iniesta's unavailability is fully understood, but Busquets', less so. Iniesta is injured, and didn't play in Barça's most recent outing. Busquets arrived having been playing, joined up with the squad and wanted to take part in both games. Two different cases. That aside, the main interest this evening will be seeing how the new ‘No.9's’ get on - those who are battling to take the place of Diego Costa, who Del Bosque insists he hasn't given up on. And also in goal: Casillas or De Gea? A lot of people have been asking when the handover will be made in the goalkeeper's position. If Casillas starts tonight, in the most demanding of the two games this week, it will mean that he will continue as the first option, even if only for the immediate future.